Long before the empty tomb, Golgotha, the Garden, the trial, the healings, the miracles, the Sermon on the Mount or even the water turned to wine, Jesus stopped off in the wilderness for forty days to deal with his appetites and the essence of his humanity.
Jesus was a human being. Much of Christian theology is rendered ineffective because clergy are unable to fathom this.
His relationship with God, based upon being the only begotten Son, is completely unknown and irrelevant to us. Why? Because when he lived in our presence, he had no special favors, no advantages and claimed to be a “son of man”–just one of the gang.
Jesus was sent to Earth.
According to the story, Satan was cast down–his punishment, to be bound and limited to Earth.
And for the period of time that Jesus was here, he was in the same situation, except that he was granted the Holy Spirit.
So when we talk about Satan tempting Jesus, what we’re really discussing is the pernicious nature in all of us which makes us aggravated with the way things are.
That is the definition of sin.
The sins of the heart trigger the sins of the flesh.
Therefore when you boil down the three temptations, they are nothing more than a series of lamentations:
1. “I’m hungry. Why are there just stones and no bread?”
2. “Here I am–so cool, and nobody knows me. I’m not famous. Maybe if I jumped off the Temple…”
3. “I need a short cut. Maybe if I worship what everybody else worships, they’ll all think I’m really neat and I can rule the world.”
It is the nature of human beings to want to control. It’s foolish, since there are too many people, animals, weather formations and evolutions going on for us to ever stick a flag anywhere and claim it’s our turf.
Therefore we fail. When we can’t control we either pout or we cheat.
Jesus took the time in the wilderness to abandon his human instinct to control–because during his ministry, sometimes people had faith and sometimes they didn’t. The Pharisees were more interested in traditions than compassion and the disciples were often as dull as your wife’s shower razor.
We fail because when we realize that our plan has gone awry and we’ve lost control, we become depressed and don’t recognize the opportunities around us.
I know it’s hard to believe, but there really is only one sin. We start it early, keeping it to our grave:
- “It’s not fair.”
- “It’s not good enough.”
- “It isn’t what I planned.”
- “People don’t understand me.”
- “I’ve been cheated.”
- “I’m the wrong color.”
- “I’m mistreated.”
From that position of pitiful, we try to beg enough sympathy to be loved and considered. If that doesn’t work, we cheat, lie, deceive, commit adultery, take drugs or any other sin that’s ready to jump on our backs like a monkey.
Jesus took forty days to deal with his humanity. He accepted the fact that he did not have control and would have to work with what was available.
It was only after the Resurrection, on his way to ascend to heaven that he proclaimed, “All power is given unto me in heaven and Earth.”
So let’s stop controlling, and instead … work with what is available.